Rachel Fulton Brown is a professor of history at the University of Chicago. She is a medievalist. And she has attracted great controversy. Naturally, Jay wanted to talk to her. They talk about being a medievalist. What attracted her to the field in the first place? They talk about “The Lord of the Rings.” And then life in academia, when your views are considered heretical. She is a happy warrior, Professor Fulton Brown, and also a fencer. A woman of parts. And a woman of guts.More
Jim McAdams is a professor of international relations at Notre Dame, and a “Communistologist,” as Jay says. He was seen by millions in a video a couple of weeks ago, broadcast during the Notre Dame–Michigan football game. McAdams is one of the leading authorities on Communism in the world. He is the author of “Vanguard of the Revolution: The Global Idea of the Communist Party.” Jay reviewed it here. And he talks with McAdams about a number of issues, including his own background: How did a good American boy get so interested in Communism? Among the other issues are China, Cuba, Gorbachev, the United States, and the fate of liberal democracy. McAdams says, powerfully, that love is under challenge. It must be stood up for.More
The college-football season is underway, and Jay has a special ’cast with David French and Vivek Dave. Each of those guests is a whiz. They talk about Alabama, the 800-pound gorilla of college football. The relative strengths of the conferences. The question of Urban Meyer (Ohio State’s coach). Differences between the college game and the pro game. Whether college athletes should be paid. Etc. A lively episode, full of information and opinions.More
Grant Starrett is a Tennessee lawyer, businessman, and politico. He’s also an old friend of Jay’s (and a return guest). More to the point of the present episode: He’s a big reader, a reading machine. He reads and reads – books. So, with Jay, in this episode, he talks about the reading life: how he does it and why he does it. We all make investments in our time. Starrett has thought a lot about how he wants to invest. And he discusses books at his website, grantstarrett.com. An unusual “Q&A” with an unusual, and unusually bright, guy.More
Ed. Note: To mark the passing of Senator John McCain, we’re reposting this interview Jay Nordlinger did with him in 2015.
Jay’s guest today is John McCain, the senior senator from Arizona and the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. At Jay’s prompting, he covers the waterfront, or at least a fair stretch of it: Iran, Syria, Israel, China, etc. He talks about wars past and present (and possibly future). Did the U.S. betray the people of South Vietnam? Did McCain think he would get out of the cells alive?More
Sir Willard White is an opera singer with a story to tell: from Jamaica, to the Juilliard School, to a knighthood, and beyond. He is as commanding a speaker as he is a singer. With Jay, he talks about his growing up, the decision to sing, the sting of racism, and much more. He even does a little singing — including “Love Me Tender” and “Smile.”More
At the Salzburg Festival this summer, Herbert Blomstedt was a big hit. He was a big hit onstage with the Vienna Philharmonic, and, an hour afterward, a big hit on a smaller stage with Jay. Blomstedt quoted Picasso: “It took me many years to become youthful.” And he described music as a “search for truth.” An inspiring – and fun – conversation (complete with plenty of singing).More
Javier Camarena is one of the leading tenors in the world. He is a guest at the Salzburg Festival, and participated in a series of conversations hosted by the Salzburg Festival Society. The moderator of this series is Jay. This episode of “Q&A” gives you excerpts of the conversation with Camarena. Jay actually had an encounter with this tenor in an opera house years ago – a story that Jay tells toward the end of the episode. It could be that Javier Camarena, in addition to being a bel canto idol, is the politest man in the arts.More
The Ravinia Festival is the famous music festival outside Chicago. Its longtime president and CEO is Welz Kauffman – who talks with Jay about his life and work. Kauffman has been in the business since the ’80s, encountering the great and the good (and the bad). He has seen changes in American culture, for better or worse. He has his eye on the scene and his finger on the pulse.
A bonus fact: He matriculated with Barack Obama (then known as “Barry”) at Occidental College. And was present for what was probably the future president’s first public speech of any significance.More
Kyle Parker is on Putin’s “wanted” list – one of the people Putin wants handed over to the FSB, for questioning. Parker is the chief of staff at the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and a father of the Magnitsky Act, a law that gives Putin a stomach ache. With Jay, Parker talks about life on the list and much more. An interesting and invaluable guy, Kyle Parker.More
Bill Browder is the financier whose lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was tortured to death by Russian authorities. Since that time, Browder has worked for justice, spearheading “Magnitsky acts,” which are laws that place sanctions on Russian human-rights abusers.
Browder is high on Putin’s enemies list. Indeed, he is high on Putin’s literal list: the list of people whom Putin wants handed over to the FSB – formerly the KGB – in a deal with President Trump. Putin singled out Browder at the recent Trump-Putin press conference.More
Thea Musgrave is a Scottish-American composer and a delight. This year, she and the music world have marked her 90th birthday. Jay sat down with her in her home in New York to talk things over. They talk about her life and her music – and other people’s music. Her husband, the conductor Peter Mark, chimes in with an excellent cameo.More
They called Barry Goldwater “Mr. Conservative.” In a scholarly sense, George H. Nash merits that designation, too: He is one of the world’s leading authorities on conservatism, and on American conservatism in particular. He wrote a landmark book on the subject. He is also the outstanding biographer of Herbert Hoover. Jay talks with Mr. Nash about his background: an upbringing in Massachusetts; attendance at Amherst and Harvard. Then the discussion turns to conservatism: What is it and what isn’t it? Later, Jay asks what he calls an “Oprah-esque” question about Hoover: What is most misunderstood about him? The conversation ends with reflections on what makes an historical mind. George H. Nash has an impressive one.More
Omar Mohammed is an Iraqi historian and “citizen journalist.” Jay says he is one of the most extraordinary people you will ever meet. At tremendous risk to himself, he chronicled the Islamic State’s occupation of Mosul. What he saw might destroy the average person. But he has pressed on, simply because he wants the world to know, in the hope that people will defend themselves better against the Islamic States of the future.More
David Luhnow is the Latin America editor for the Wall Street Journal. An American, he grew up in Mexico City. His brother Jeff is the general manager of the Houston Astros. (Have they done anything lately?) With Jay, David Luhnow talks about various matters Mexican: crime, economy, culture, politics, and more. The next president is expected to be AMLO – Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He is a left-wing populist and “old-fashioned Mexican nationalist,” as Luhnow says. Things could get interesting in a hurry.
Luhnow is a remarkably well-informed, remarkably balanced, and remarkably clear explainer. At the end of this episode, Jay says he wishes there were a David Luhnow for every region of the world.More
Mu Sochua was born in 1954. She left Cambodia when she was 18, three years before the Khmer Rouge came to power. Most of her family was wiped out. She returned and took up a political career. She served in the government but later turned to the opposition. She is now in exile. Monovithya Kem is the daughter of the opposition leader, Kem Sokha – who is now in prison. Like Mu Sochua, the leader’s daughter is now in exile. Jay Nordlinger talked with them both at the Oslo Freedom Forum. Of great interest.More
It is NBA Finals time, so that means another episode with Jay’s gurus from the last NBA podcast: Vivek Dave, Theodore Kupfer, and David French. They talk Warriors vs. Cavs and more. Something has happened since the last podcast: David has declared, in an “historic” essay, as Jay says, LeBron James the GOAT — the Greatest of All Time. What does the panel think about that? And other major questions.More
Emmanuel Jal has had an extraordinary life – probably not one you would wish on anyone. He was born in Sudan, sometime in the early 1980s (he’s not sure when). As a child, he was forced to be a soldier. His mother was killed. So were many, many other members of his family. He spent several years – the heart of his childhood – in combat. Eventually, he was adopted by a British aid worker named Emma McCune. She took him to the safety of Nairobi, where she died in a road accident a few months later. Through trial and tribulation, Jal became an entrepreneur, a hip-hop artist, a clinician, and more. He has a great deal to share, a great deal to say. Listen to him talk to Jay.More
Gianandrea Noseda is the music director of the National Symphony Orchestra. He is also one of the best interviewees in all of music (as Jay knows from experience). Noseda was in New York, to guest-conduct the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and Jay sat down with him — to talk about orchestras, Mozart, Mahler, YouTube, and more. At the end, Jay says, “Can you possibly put into words why you like music?” A conversation with Noseda is equal parts deep and fun.More